There are a few quizzes in here. There’s at least one direct question for you to answer, and there are several “deliberate mistakes”: errors of fact that could be spotted by anyone with a reasonable general knowledge, and no specialist unicycling knowledge. Usual rule: PM me the answers, and I’ll post the winners when the answers start to dry up in a day or two. If you don’t want to enter, please don’t mention the answers in any replies to the thread. There might be some dreadful puns too.
These days, I’m too busy and brain dead from work to write up every significant ride I do, so you’ll have to wonder about the idiot on the scrambler bike who fell off after buzzing me the other night, the fine sighting of a pair of green woodpeckers, and the herd of fallow deer.
Today’s ride starts as a blank canvas: I have the whole day free, and the opportunity of an early start, should I choose to take it.
I put fresh water in the Camelbak (only a fool would ride in this weather without plentiful water), check that the GPS is working (only a fule would get lost in the forest last Wednesday and nearly not get back to the car before the car park gates closed) and I’m on my way.
When I arrive at Forest Pines, there are only a couple of dozen cars in the car park. I take my time kitting up. There has been an annoying squeak from the KH24 for some time, and I vigorously apply my spanner to all of the nuts that are in contact with the seat (except two).
Eventually, I trace the squeak to slight movement between the seat base and the rail adapter, tighten the two nuts at the rear, and the problem is cured.
The first part of the ride is familiar territory. In quick succession, I ride wide straight ballast track; narrow undulating single track that winds between tall pines; steep sand and gravel slopes; packed mud with exposed roots; and off the path through the forest, my tyre silent on the carpet of pine needles. Somewhere, I hear a cuckoo’s distinctive call, and it takes me back to my childhood days in Norfolk.
We were poor - very poor - and often had to live on what my mother could grow, or what my step father of the time could “find”. Rabbit stew, pheasant hotpot, and poacher’s pie featured on the menu. I remember the time when all my step father could catch was one rabbit and three cuckoos. My mother did her best, and made a nourishing soup with the meat, but it tasted awful - which only goes to show that too many cuckoos spoil the broth.
From time to time as I ride, my GPS beeps accusingly at me. The screen says, “Warning, weak GPS signal” and asks me to acknowledge this by pressing a button. What am I meant to do when it warns me? Ride with my hand above my head? Climb a tree? The GPS often struggles in the pine woods, which makes sense as I am surrounded by tall pines, the trunks of which contain a massive quantity of water which may block the signal.
For over three miles, I meet no one, my only companions being the wood pigeons that fly across my path, and the squirrels that scurry out of my way, their tails flowing behind them like oscilloscope traces as they hop. An occasional butterfly lands on the path in front of my wheel, playing chicken - which is strange because you almost never see chickens playing butterfly.
At last, I reach one of several areas which have been set aside for BMXs and mountain bikes. It is a large clearing, with humps, bumps, hollows and banks arranged as obstacles to be ridden over. I stop to recover my breath. I have ridden 3.47 miles without a UPD or a break, on mixed terrain with a fair bit of climbing.
To the back of where I’m sitting, a large area of forest is fire damaged. It is unlikely to be a lighting strike - the trees here are fairly young and much shorter than elsewhere - and the huge amount of litter suggests to me that it was started by human agency. A discarded bacon wrapper and a food tin suggest someone may have been cooking. Some burns a few feet off the ground on a tree trunk suggest some idiot may have been playing with a lighter.
Refreshed by my rest, I remount and spend a few minutes swooping about on the obstacles. As always, there have been changes since my previous visit. As a unicyclist, I seldom find the changes to be positive. The unicycle responds well to smooth slopes and curves, but I have little skill in vertical drops or jumps, and the changes always seem to be in the direction of making the humps rougher and the drops more sudden.
I fail a couple of times to make it to the top of the big bank. The ground is bone dry, and there is a light dusting of sand, which means that sometimes I lose traction completely and stall before stepping off. In the end, I walk to the top, then ride along the bank, ducking under low branches, shimmying around tree trunks, and always trying to take the higher line when options are presented. At last, I find a suitable descent and turn left, stomping down the slope, the wheel sometimes locking and skidding slightly in the loose sandy soil.
At the bottom, I UPD for no good reason, and I curse myself roundly. A few minutes later, I UPD again as the pedal rolls forward under my foot. This happens too often, and it’s always my right foot. It must be a bad technique thing. I swear loudly, and instruct myself in no uncertain terms to concentrate to stop being stupid.
To my right is another big area of partly burned forest. Idiots.